When she was 15 years old, “My father got into a terrible car accident,” Rodriguez tells emmy Magazine for their October cover story (out Sept. 15). “The car was like an accordion, it was so smashed. They were totally sure we were going to lose him.”
It took Rodriguez’s father, Genaro, nearly two years to fully recover from the accident, and in that time, he started driving the actress to school, playing motivational tapes during the drive. “It was like, ‘Again? This is ridiculous!'” she remembers, laughing. But it was on those car rides that Rodriguez’s now famous mantra made its first appearance.
“Then he started making me look in the passenger-side mirror every day and say, ‘Today’s going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ At the time, I thought it was so lame. The worst! But he wouldn’t let me out of the car until I did it.
“What I came to realize,” she admitted of the phrase, which she used to title her upcoming book from Simon & Schuster, “is that there is no better way to live than the way that man lives.” (And yes, she still recites it to herself every single day.)
Inspired by the motivation and faith that her father instilled in her, Rodriguez, now 31, is determined to pay it forward for Latina women everywhere – even if that meant passing up a big, buzzy show like Lifetime’s Devious Maids to find a project she believed in like she did Jane the Virgin.
“Jennie [Snyder Urman’s] script encompassed this dual-culture identity so authentically,” Rodriguez remembered about reading the pilot for the first time. “I met her and I was like, ‘You don’t see me as a brown baby. You see me as a woman, and that’s why this show is so strong. Because you see people as people. You’re writing about the human experience. And no matter the ethnicity, we all want love, success, a family. We all want to do it right. That’s the human experience.’ ”
But even with a Golden Globe for the first season of the show and an upcoming film – Deepwater Horizon, where she’ll share the screen with Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson – under her belt, there’s still plenty that Rodriguez still wants to accomplish, including, directing, producing and voicing an animated character.
“And I want to be a superhero. I want to be an X-Man. Talk about Storm .I want to create a f—ing storm! My dreams keep getting bigger. I don’t expect them to happen tomorrow. But I believe they’ll happen before I’m done.”
After all, she said, “I think you must believe something can happen in order for it to happen. I definitely always believed I was capable of doing all this, as long as I didn’t stop trying.”
Jane the Virgin returns Oct. 12 to The CW.